RPS see lower student suspensions over last 8 years

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Rockford Public Schools are seeing fewer students suspended, which is also leading to higher graduation rates.

Freshman Seminar and Student Leadership teacher Tina Lamb says she can tell, from her 11 years teaching at Jefferson High School, that there's a change in her students.

"They're more engaged and they actually want to be in school, so they don't want to be suspended," says Lamb.

Lamb says that one of the biggest reasons why is the Student Conduct Code. It is updated each year and helps students to understand the consequences for their actions.

"Students know what to expect and when school leaders follow through with that, I think it helps improve student behavior," says Lamb.

The Illinois State Board of education shows a nearly 49% decrease in the number of students suspended.

These numbers, the Board says, are the lowest they've been in 8 years.

Jefferson High School leaders say the drop is in part due to what they call a re-entry conference.

"Within that re-entry conference, we address disciplinary concerns, but we also address any other concerns. Where are they at with their attendance, where are they at with their academics?'" says Executive Principal, Don Rundall.

There's also more supervision in the Jefferson hallways. Deputy Superintendent Matt Vosberg says it's that presence that is turning the school into more of a community.

"We do know that, when students are engaged academically, and they're connected to adults in the building, that they're more likely to comply with what we're wanting to do to have an active learning environment," says Vosberg.

"Everyone's on the same page, and students... they really know what to expect with behavior," says Lamb.

Jefferson High School leaders also say their Academy program that connects students with higher education opportunities is also helping them stay motivated. They tell us that they expect another decrease in suspension numbers next year.